All information in this blog post is correct as of the publishing date, 07.11.18.
Christmas may not be the time of year that instantly springs to mind when most of us think about taking holidays to Guernsey, with the summer months offering opportunities to explore the island’s beautiful beaches and stunning inland scenery over many long days and in comfortable, warm sunshine.
Nevertheless, anyone who has spent a week or two in Guernsey during the festive season will know that there is a very special atmosphere to be enjoyed there in November and December; not only is it quieter than at peak holiday times, but there are also some lovely events taking place around the island that will allow visitors to discover this unique destination in a whole new light. Here’s some more information about our top choices for things to do in Guernsey this Christmas:
Christmas markets (Thursdays and Saturdays, 1-22 December)
Found in the heart of Guernsey’s capital, Saint Peter Port, it should come as no surprise that the Market Square area serves as the focal point for the island’s Christmas celebrations. Things will be no different this year as the market opens for late night shopping on Thursdays and all day on Saturdays throughout December, featuring a host of Christmas-themed stalls.
Market Square will also be where the town’s Christmas lights are switched on (this will be happening on Saturday 1 December), with traditional carol singing also taking place and decorations including Saint Peter Port’s official tree all helping to create the perfect festive atmosphere.
You will also find a great selection of shops in the buildings surrounding the market, some of which you will recognise from back home, including the likes of HMV, New Look and Sports Direct. To find out more about Market Square, click here.
Ice-skating (Daily, 1 December – 6 January)
Since 2014, a seasonal ice rink has been based at Le Friquet Garden Centre in Castel, Guernsey’s largest parish. The rink has proved to be so popular that, this year, it is going to be open for an extended period, running for over a month.
Proudly known as ‘Guernsey’s only real ice rink’, this must-visit winter attraction is very conveniently located for those who want to do a bit more shopping whilst they’re away, as it is accessed via Le Friquet’s Christmas department! As one of the island’s premier retail spots, this garden centre always offers an exciting festive experience for the whole family, whilst a Santa’s grotto will round off a perfect day out for the little ones.
Starting on the hour, each ice-skating session at Le Friquet will last for 45 minutes, giving you and your family plenty of time to get to grips with the slippery surface! Please note that, due to popular demand, it is worth reserving your slot at the rink beforehand if you are planning to visit in the evening or at the weekend.
Christmas events at Guernsey Museum (Sundays, 2-23 December)
Found within the grounds of the beautiful Candie Gardens, Guernsey Museum will be hosting a Christmas-themed event every Sunday before Christmas throughout December. There will be plenty for visitors of all ages to enjoy at ‘Candie Christmas’, including live music, seasonal family film screenings, a selection of crafts to suit children and adults alike, some exciting themed trails in the museum’s galleries, a Santa’s grotto and much more.
Whilst you’re at the museum, why not take the chance to look around its fantastic exhibitions and galleries? Highlights include the ‘Story of Guernsey’, which explores the history of the island in great depth, and the Rona Cole Art Gallery – a real treat for lovers of fine art.
Normal entry rates for the museum apply (free for Discovery Pass holders); visiting Santa’s Grotto costs an additional £3 per child and will include a small gift.
Petit Train Christmas lights tours (Sunday-Wednesday, 4-19 December)
The charming Petit Train (affectionately known as ‘Victor’) is regularly used by visitors to Guernsey in the warmer months, with the unique sightseeing tours of the island it offers running every day between Easter until the beginning of October. For two weeks in December, however, the train will be running a special Christmas service that will let passengers take in all the festive lights that will be decorating the capital of Saint Peter Port.
Departing from the Albert Pier, the train – which travels on the road and is made up of three carriages – will be running on selected days from 4 – 19 December between 6:00 – 7:30 PM, with each journey taking around 40 minutes.
Taking a trip on the Petit Train is one of the most popular things to do in Guernsey in the summer months, offering a convenient way to see several local landmarks at once, including Castle Cornet, La Valette Bathing Pools, the Royal Court Building and the picturesque seafront. With the driver’s friendly and knowledgeable commentary telling you all you need to know about these historic highlights, why not take advantage of this unique opportunity to discover all these sights in the magical festive season?
You can find out more about the Petit Train on its website.
Tour Guernsey Christmas lights tours (Dates TBC)
Perhaps an even more memorable way of exploring the island is with Tour Guernsey, who will be running their distinctive Land Rover trips around the island in the run-up to Christmas. Here’s what the company themselves have to say about the special tours they will be running over the festive period:
“We will be offering tours searching out Guernsey’s best Christmas lights. Wrap up warm and enjoy some classic Christmas tunes as we navigate our way down country lanes, taking full advantage of our raised seating position to enjoy the light displays. Ticket price and start point TBC; adult tickets to include a glass of mulled local cider, children tickets to include a glass of mulled apple juice.”
You can visit the Tour Guernsey website by clicking here, where you will be able to see pictures of the company’s unique Land Rover and learn more about the different tours that they run throughout the year.